Fully Integrated Circuits Successfully Printed Directly onto Fabric

If wearable electronics are to become commonplace, a breakthrough is required which allows them to be washable, stretchable and breathable. Using conventional inkjet techniques which are cheap, safe and environmentally friendly, researchers recently reported the successful printing of 2D material, creating integrated electronic circuits, directly onto fabrics.

Dengue infection, atherosclerosis, global warming, Cardiovascular diseases, cancer, regenerative medicine, cancer, high-performance chips, drug delivery, human brain, healthy weight loss, electric ferries, Blood pressure, eye diseases, innovative system, plastic pollution, Zika virus, sandfly-borne disease, implants, Volcanic ash, 3D-printed propeller blade, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, humanoid, folate deficiency, flooded mines, Alzheimer’s, Cranberries, type 1 diabetes, graphene mass production, Internet of Things, search engine, autonomous driving, Foodborne diseases, hydrogen generation, Human Cell Division, Borneo cave, cannabis-based drugs, laser material, GHz signals, corals, Hydrogen Production, tidal renewable energy, Antibiotic-Free Treatment, mental disorders, cancer, Synthetic Biology Research, Parkinson’s, Turbine Technology, Chronic Lung Disease, smart technology, Water monitoring device, aircraft wing design, energy consumed, Climate Change, Rett Syndrome, Perovskite-silicon solar cell, Low Back Pain, Heart Valves Implanted, heat pump, Floating device, honeybee, Workplace with Robots, power devices, Railway Sleepers, Minor cereals, paralysed, fibre optic, ultra-thin membranes, cold on a plane, diabetes genes, microcapsules, Electromagnetic radiation, Cold-loving bacteria, Artificial intelligence, Silicon Chips, Magnetic E-Skins, dog, climate change, Intestinal worms, antisocial behaviour, immune system, Bicarbonate, Neonatal seizures, insects, Alzheimer's disease, photovoltaic, Integrated Circuits, stress, human intelligence, quantum, OLED, smart glass, magnetic devices, mites, breathing monitor, spider silk, Cetaceans, Alzheimer, MNS robots, blindpad, photonics, remote medical diagnostic, sensors, Photovoltaic Panels, Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, WINESENSE, combustion, multiple myeloma, sugar and mood, arctic waters, ultrawine, heliospheric, lunar exploration, Brain Diseases, fingertips, trees, earthquakes, gene therapies, climate change, nuclear waste, quantum, brain diseases, solar power, pulmonary disease, solidification, global warming, photovoltaic cells, drone, antiobiotic-resistant bacteria, Graphene, energy efficiency, magnetic data storage, immunology, Genetic plant, Antarctic, Alzheimer, Magnetic attraction, Huntington’s disease, bone repair, earthquakes, photonic crystals, brain, immunodeficiency, Internet of Things, spinal cord injuries, Dietary restriction, Bacterial DNA, NEUROMICS, huntington's

Researchers have successfully printed two-dimensional materials such as graphene (a single layer of carbon in a hexagonal lattice), directly onto textiles, enabling the production of wearable integrated electronic circuits. The inkjet printing process used was based on standard techniques which helps keep the production of these new fabric-based electronic devices sustainable, low-cost and scalable.

Perfecting the 2D material printing

The researchers outline in a paper published in the journal Nature Communicationshow they designed low-boiling point, non-toxic inks, which were directly printed onto polyester textile. This process demonstrated viability for wearable printed integrated circuits which can function at room temperature and pressure. Crucially, with this new approach the researchers were able to surpass the conventional process which creates singular transistors, as they were able to print whole integrated electronic circuits.

The team discovered that the roughness of textiles influenced the electrical properties of the electronics and that smoothing the surface of the textiles, using a so-called ‘planarisation layer’, meant they were able to improve the performance of the printed devices.

One of the main advantages that the technique has over alternatives, is its versatility. The majority of current wearable electronic devices are created from relatively rigid components which are then mounted on wearable materials such such as textiles, plastic or rubber. However, these are often impractical as they can be uncomfortable to wear allowing limited accommodation for the human body, they are not breathable for example. They can also be easily damaged during washing. The team’s product is both comfortable to wear and able to withstand up to 20 washing cycles in a standard machine.

According to Dr Felice Torrisi of the Cambridge Graphene Centre, the paper’s senior author, another advantage of the team’s technique is that as he told EurekAlert, ‘Other inks for printed electronics normally require toxic solvents and are not suitable to be worn, whereas our inks are both cheap, safe and environmentally-friendly, and can be combined to create electronic circuits by simply printing different two-dimensional materials on the fabric.’

The team took advantage of the fact that graphene and hexagonal-boron nitride are atomically thin 2D materials and so can be flexibly arranged into structures displaying novel properties, beyond those of their individual components. This means that the conducting, insulating and semiconducting properties of the 2D materials can be harnessed to facilitate the specific performance required.

Scalable for complexity and performance

There are a wide range of potential commercial applications for the technology from wearable devices that monitor personal health and well-being, to the augmentation of military capability. One field likely to take advantage of these developments, is that of the Internet of Things. As Dr Torrisi foresees, ‘Thanks to nanotechnology, in the future our clothes could incorporate these textile-based electronics, such as displays or sensors and become interactive.’

Using graphene and other related 2D materials inks to create electronic components and devices, which can be seamlessly integrated into fabrics, is at the forefront of efforts towards achieving smart textiles. Smart textiles themselves can be viewed as part of a wider effort to further blur the line between technology and everyday items, often referred to as ‘ubiquitous computing’.

The authors of the research paper are a part of the Graphene Flagship consortium, a pan-European, 10-year research and innovation initiative jointly funded by the EU, alongside member states and associated countries. It was established to support efforts that exploit the potential of graphene and related technologies, bringing applications to the marketplace.

Source: CORDIS